Not long after, I remember the announcement of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I had been glued to CNN since that day in September. I thought I missed something, a briefing or segment, explaining why we were going to Iraq, when they previously said Osama Bin Laden was responsible and that he was in Afghanistan. Yet I followed, as then President Bush told us Osama wasn't the real threat, or much of a concern at all. I wanted to join the fight every since the day of the attacks, but confusion held me at bay. Instead, I watched the action unfold on screen. After days of seeing troops landing and nights shots of bomb-lit skies, I watched the troops and Iraqi citizens storm Sadaam Hussein's palace, toppling his statue with rope and celebrating. After a few weeks, it appeared we had won. No more yellow cake uranium threats, America was safe once again. President Bush stood on a battleship behind a banner that read "Mission Accomplished", confirming the successful completion of the mission in Iraq. I kept watching. Everyday for a while, the war coverage continued. Soon, it dissolved back into reality shows and the like. The juxtaposition was sickening. It didn't take long before networks realized war coverage was a downer, and soon it stopped almost entirely. I remember the early conspiracies, of seized video tapes and missing Pentagon footage. I remember learning about what a commission was, and people asking why the president apparently didn't want an investigation. I remember the 2004 presidential election. The controversy of the 2000 elections was my introduction to politics, so I expected an electric national climate as the people resolidified a shaky democracy via participation. I remember the "terror alert" being set to the color of "always". The war raged on, so the overall sentiment of "consistency in a time of war" rode Bush into another term. I remember the second inauguration of Bush: the first being famous for it's historical opposition, and the second being famous for it's historic suppression of opposition. I remember people confided in cages, or protest zones, and being actually arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts near the president as the first time Patriot Act concerns became more than hyperbole. I remember being worried people would find out about my true positions, opposing the war and the president, and I would be punished for them. I remember people saying "it's been 7/8/9 years: Iraq is another Vietnam." I remember the focus going from Osama, to Al Quaeda, to Muslim Extremists, to Muslims. I remember not finding WMD's, but I don't remember the other reasons we went to Iraq, or why we stayed. I remember Amy Goodman being preemptively arrested before she could cover the Republican National Convention. The news coverage plays in my head like a scene from V for Vendetta. I remember my decision to stop talking out of fear of the Patriot Act, thinking any number of key words would trigger a storm of agents to descend upon me. I remember thinking they were detaining dissenters indefinitely, and they were always watching and listening. I remember the election of Barack Obama in 2009, and thinking that "we took the country back". I remember the Tea Party forming that same year with the stated goal of "taking our country back".
Ten years after the fact, I remember 9/11 and everything that has happened since. We were all Americans that day, but now we have descended into tribal differences. Ten years after an attack unified the nation, we are on the verge or in the midst of civil war. Racial tension is at an all time high, as well as tension between political and religious factions. 9/11 happened to us all, but we all personalized it differently. The attackers believed they were fighting a holy war, so some Americans now believe we are at war with Muslims. Some Americans are at war with both the 9/11 attackers and the new administration that took over in 2008. Ten years after the attack, let us remember how we were all once on the same side. Nobody cared who called themselves liberal or conservative on that day. The race of first responders was hardly noticeable when they were all covered in ash. Nobody was criticized for their admission of faith at that time, or questioned for their lack thereof. On this tenth anniversary, let us remember the moment when we were all American for a day, and reflect on what we want America to remember ten years from now. Rest in Peace to every fallen soldier and civilian lost. Let us all remember when we said "We Will Never Forget", and expand that remembrance to what happened before 9/11 and since.